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Proper Green: 3 Ways to Retire Your Child Car Seats

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Safety first! While we’re always encouraging reuse, there are some items – like expired car seats – that should never be handed down. Proper Green offers up the proper disposal techniques for child safety seats that need to be taken out of the line of duty.
Dear Proper Green,

I have 2 toddler car seats that say not to use after Dec, 2010, and Dec 2011. What can be done with these perfectly good seats? Is there a trade-in or recycle opportunity for these items?

Linda P.

Dear Linda,

Great question! According to Consumer Reports, you should ALWAYS retire a child's car seat when any of the following occurs:

It's expired: Yes, expired! Car seats have expiration dates to help keep degradation in mind and to make sure the car seat in use utilizes the most modern technology and meets the latest safety regulations.

It's been in an accident: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you replace your child safety seats when you have been involved in a moderate or severe accident.

Your kid's too darn big: Children grow out of the new shoes at a faster pace than you can buy them (or find correct size hand me downs), so it's no surprise they'll outgrow that safety seat fast, too. Once they've hit the weight or height limit on the seat, it's time to replace.

There's damage: Do some quick inspections on the car seats, and check for wear and tear, cracks, and anything else that may raise a red flag. When in doubt, safety first!

If it's time to replace your car seat with a new one, here's how you can dispose of your retiree properly:

Check with your municipalities: Some towns and cities offer safety seat recycling. Do a little homework and see if yours collect this item. It will save you time in the long run as the other options are a bit more complicated.

Dismantle and recycle the materials: Get out the toolbox! Disassemble the seat and recycle the materials you know can go in your curbside bin or to your local recycling center, and discard the rest.

Mail it in: We were able to find a national mail in program for all types of baby products, like strollers, high chairs, and that car seat! With BabyEarth RENEW you'll have to pay shipping costs but they handle the rest, ensuring all usable parts are recycled and reused.

Have you disposed of a child's car seat? Tell us what you did with your safety seat below!
About Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and the environment are still evolving) to providing easy ways to make your every day more sustainable, Proper Green aims to help smooth the way with answers to questions that are important to you!

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Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more

  • Rebecca P. 4 years ago
    Just a thought...if you are handy or know someone handy, you could add some bent wood or metal to the bottom and turn it into a rocking chair for the house. Even if your child has outgrown it, maybe someone you know would like something like that for their little one. The seat may not be safe for a car, but a mom could use it to rock their baby to sleep in it, or use it to sit the baby up if he/she has a cold or congestion. You could also add something sturdy that would allow you to secure it to the ground. Add a piece of an old but cleaned plastic shower curtain to it to protect it. You would need to connect the plastic securely to the chair. Now you have an outdoor chair for your child to sit in.
  • elaine a. 5 years ago
    a child is priceless never recycle a car seat
  • kim c. 5 years ago
    hi i would like to join the home recycling but dont know how, thanks kim
  • Sharon R. 5 years ago
    Good to know.
  • Carol D. 5 years ago
    Wow, I had no idea that car seats had expiration dates and that you could mail them into a recycle place!! And I work at a preschool!!!! I will be telling all my parents just in case they have missed this info too!!!!
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